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Late-night comedians take aim at Trump’s response to Charlottesville

TV hosts Stephen Colbert, left, Seth Meyers and Jimmy Kimmel all commented on Trump and the events in Charlottesville.
TV hosts Stephen Colbert, left, Seth Meyers and Jimmy Kimmel all commented on Trump and the events in Charlottesville. TNS file

President Donald Trump has attacked a long list of people and groups, late-night comedians noted Monday in the aftermath of deadly weekend violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Yet it took him two days to condemn the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and other white supremacy groups who had gathered there.

“Was that so hard? Why did that take two days?” asked “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert.

“It shouldn’t take longer for the president to do the right thing than it takes to get a package from Amazon,” said Seth Meyers of “Late Night.”

“He sounds like a kid whose parents made him apologize for egging their neighbor’s house,” said Jimmy Kimmel, host of “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”

“The whole thing is such a bummer because Nazis were like the last thing we all agreed on,” Meyers added. “Indiana Jones fought the Nazis and we love Indiana Jones!”

They rattled off lists of people the president had found easier to criticize.

Just in the last week, Meyers said, the president “slammed the Senate Majority Leader of his own party and got into a war of words with North Korea.” Trump, he noted, has previously excoriated the likes of former presidential candidate Jeb Bush and even “people who drink Diet Coke.”

Colbert’s list was longer: “Hillary Clinton, the New York Times, CNN, Joe Scarborough, Kristen Stewart and the cast of Hamilton, Diet Coke, Nordstrom not selling his daughter’s clothes, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the mayor of London Sadiq Khan, me, the state of New Hampshire, Gold Star families, Penn Jillette’s Las Vegas show, the movie Django Unchained, Meryl Streep and Lady Ghostbusters.”

As Kimmel said, “When Donald Trump is upset . . . he doesn’t keep it bottled up, he lets us know.”

While the comedians criticized the president as well as voiced their dismay over the weekend events that unfolded, there were elements of humor, too.

“We went into the weekend wondering about Kim Jong Un starting a war,” Kimmel said. “We came out of it wondering if our president was cutting eyeholes out of his bedsheets.”

Tiki torches

The tiki torches used by the white nationalists in a late-night march in Charlottesville caught the comedians’ attention, in part because the maker of the torches issued a statement saying it wasn’t “associated in any way” with the events that took place there.

“You know it’s bad when the thing you were angrily waving denounces you,” Meyers said. Then, taking aim at Trump, he added: “You didn’t have to rise to the level of FDR or JFK. All you had to do was show the same amount of courage and moral clarity as the people who make tiki torches. And you failed.”

Colbert echoed that sentiment. “It’s pretty troubling when a backyard decoration comes out swinging stronger against Nazis than the president of the United States,” he said.

“It’s really hard to come off as intimidating when you got torches from your mom’s patio,” Meyers said.

“Many sides”

The comedians also poked fun at Trump’s initial public comments Saturday, in which he referred to the violence in Charlottesville as coming from “many sides.” He did not identify the groups he viewed as disruptive.

“How can you possibly say you condemn this in the strongest possible terms when you don’t even name the groups responsible or say what they did?” Colbert said. “I have seen angrier Yelp reviews. And they weren’t afraid to use the word ‘Nazi’ when describing how long their jalapeño poppers took.”

“There were two sides, not many sides,” Kimmel said. “And one of those sides had Nazis on it.”

“Mr. President, Mr. President, this is terrorism, not your order at KFC,” Colbert said to chuckles from the audience. Imitating Trump, he said: “I’d like the 10-piece bucket with potato wedges, fries, mash - you know what? Many sides. Many sides. Coleslaw.”

A somber moment

Jimmy Fallon gave the most serious of the monologues, saying it was his “responsibility to stand up against intolerance and extremism as a human being.”

As he watched the news about Charlottesville, with his daughters in the next room, Fallon said he thought, “how can I explain to them that there is so much hatred in this world?”

He commended “one brave woman,” Heather Heyer, 32, who was killed when a car slammed into a group of counterprotesters.

Fallon said ignoring the hateful behavior exhibited at the rally is “just as bad as supporting it.”

He said all Americans need to “stand against what is wrong” and acknowledge that racism exists, in order “to show the next generation that we haven’t forgotten how hard people have fought for human rights.”

“We cannot do this,” Fallon said, seemingly on the verge of tears. “We can’t go backward. We can’t go backward.”

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